The Backpacker's Guide to Packing Light: A Badass Toiletry Bag Is A Must!

packing light backpacker above clouds

Packing light isn't just for flight attendants and pilots. For backpackers, it’s the difference between sore muscles and pain-free travel. These adventurers know that traveling lightly is the key to thriving on the road. Not only does it help them avoid hefty baggage fees. Packing light also removes the unnecessary strain from their necks, backs, and shoulders, and keeps them organized for their adventures!

The Backpacker's Guide to the Ultralight Toiletry Bag

To crush long-distance hikes, experienced backpackers know that every ounce of weight matters. One extra pound on the backpack relative to their body weight can set them on a crash course toward shoulder and back pain.

This is why an ultralight toiletry bag is ideal for packing light. It holds the daily essentials a backpacker needs to thrive on the road and helps them to avoid overpacking.

The Right Backpack-to-Body Weight Ratio

Most adventurous souls follow the 30% rule when packing light. This means that the backpacker carries no more than 30% of their body weight. For example, someone weighing 150 pounds should manage a 45-pound pack with relative ease, while the 200-pound backpacker should keep their load to a maximum of 60 pounds.

But there’s conflicting information online about the proper backpack-to-body weight ratio for long-distance travel. Not to mention a host of variables that determine the sweet spot for traveling lightly. These include the backpacker's age, experience level, and body mass index (BMI).

The Science of Pack Weight Distribution

A study by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University recommends a pack weight limit for long-distance hiking based on a benchmark total body weight of 150 pounds. According to the study, "the limits proposed are the maximum of 20% of body weight if the hiker is less than 150 lbs or a maximum of 30 lbs [of pack weight] if [the backpacker] is over 150 lbs."

In other words, the 150-pound backpacker should travel with a pack that typically weighs no more than 30 pounds. This defies the 45-pound weight limit set by the 30% rule.

Adding more confusion to the appropriate pack weight distribution is the backpack weight measured among participants who completed the long-distance hike. The study found an overwhelming success rate among travelers whose packs weighed 25% of their body weight on average, meaning that participants who completed the long-distance trail with minimal strain carried a few more pounds than the study's recommended pack weight.

How the Right Toiletry Bag Is the Key to Packing Light

With so many variables to consider for packing light, travelers can bypass the confusion by eliminating one wild card from the packing equation:

The toiletry bag!

Experienced backpackers know that organizing their toiletries in a lightweight pack not only helps them to keep track of their essential grooming items. A lightweight toiletry organizer also keeps them from overpacking, which reduces the weight load and maximizes their potential for success.

Sure, there are essential items outside of the toiletry bag that backpackers simply can't afford to leave behind, such as a sleeping bag, first-aid kit, cookware, and warm clothing. But these items can pack on the pounds quickly, which is why streamlining the toiletry bag is a vital step toward packing light.

How the Right Toiletry Bag Prevents Overpacking

Sometimes, the urge to cram a bucketload of toiletries into a backpack can feel overwhelming. But the process of weeding out unnecessary items is quite liberating, as travelers prioritize what they absolutely need versus the novelty of every squeezed-in item.

The right toiletry bag features a network of mesh pockets in different shapes and sizes that keep essential items well-organized. Mesh, in turn, resists mold and mildew, extending the life of any toiletries kit.

Organized toiletries allow backpackers to refill some items when necessary, rather than toting around unneeded extras. For instance, a traveler can refill their travel shampoo and soap when needed instead of carrying the full-size versions.

What's more, the right toiletry bag considers more than proportion and scale to streamline the packing process and reduce the backpack's weight. It also comes with a suite of convenient features that make traveling on the go a breeze. These include a TSA-compliant bag for quick liquid scans, an adjustable hideaway strap, and a hook to hang it from a towel rack or a shower caddy in the bathroom.

Gravel's Lightweight, Sustainable, and High-Quality Toiletry Bags For Every Traveler

When preparing for a long-distance hike, backpackers can lighten their loads with Gravel's Explorer SLIM and Explorer PLUS toiletry bags. Both are made from super durable materials, are TSA-approved, water-resistant, and feature a stowaway adjustable strap with an aluminum G-hook, which is fancy talk for "hang me anywhere!"

The best part? Its carefully curated mesh-pocket system means that there's a special place for everything, keeping toiletries organized and easily accessible while helping backpackers skip unnecessary items.

For other tips and tricks on packing light, check out Gravel’s Ultimate Guide to Travel Toiletries and our Pro Packing Guide. From product recommendations to packing strategies, we've got you covered.

Safe travels!

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